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September 29, 2008

How I made Green & White Taxi pay what they owe

Suburban/Green & White Taxi Accident, St. Paul

On Sept. 4, I was in a Green & White Taxi on my way to downtown St. Paul to cover the RNC protests.

Suddenly, the driver slammed on the brakes, the cab veered into the next lane, clipped an adjacent vehicle, hit the k-rail, bounced back out into traffic and finally came to rest against the k-rail.

I was wearing my seatbelt, so I wasn't seriously injured. But I walked away with a very sore neck. I went to the ER to get checked out. X-rays came back normal and they discharged me with a prescription for ibuprophen.

In a way, it was a lucky accident because if I hadn't been strapped to a backboard in the ER while the Capital was being locked down, I probably would have ended up flex-cuffed face down on a bridge, like many of my indie media colleagues. As it turned out, all access to the Capital was blocked off by the time I arrived, so I missed the mass arrest.

The hospital assured me that the cab company's insurance would take care of the ER bill. I left them with the taxi company's name and phone number and assumed that the billing department would handle it from there. I didn't give it much thought until I got a bill for $1100.

The hospital explained that they'd called Green & White Taxi three times to request insurance information, but Green & White wasn't returning their calls. They wanted to hold me responsible for the bill.

I tried calling Green & White (also dba Suburban Taxi). I must have left a dozen messages over the course of several days. Despairing of ever reaching a person at the office number, I tried calling the dispatcher and asking him to walk over to the front office and get someone's attention. He refused.

I got a sinking feeling when I finally got through to a receptionist who refused to tell me the last name of the insurance administrator or when she'd be in the office next, or even the last name of the owner of Green & White.

For the record, the owner's name is Gary Tournier. Mr. Tournier didn't cover his online tracks nearly as well as he thought he did.

I was getting panicky because if Green & White would't give the hospital their insurance information, the hospital was going to hold me responsible. What's the point of making cab drivers carry insurance if they can get away with stonewalling the hospital until the victim gets stuck with the bill? 

Then I remembered that St. Paul has a taxi licensing commission which keeps track of the insurance that each taxi company must carry. I got the name of the insurance company and the insurance policy-writing company from from St. Paul's taxi licensing office. The policy-writing firm referred me to a third company that actually handles claim processing.

I asked if a claim had been opened for Green & White's policy. All the agent needed was the name of the company and the number of the cab. Sure enough, Green & White had filed a claim to cover the damage to their vehicle. The agent gave me the policy number and the underwriter's name.

That's all the hospital needs to bill Green & White's insurance for my ER bill.

I devised my own strategy to get around the shady, stonewalling Green & White Taxi because there wasn't any information online about how to get insurance info from a taxi company that won't divulge it.

So, I thought I'd post about the experience in the hopes that someone else will have an easier time of it.

To summarize: Here's what to do if a cab company won't divulge its insurance information. Find out which body governs taxi licensing in the place where the accident happened. Usually, the licensing body is part of the city government, but not always. Ask for the insurance policy information on the cab. Call the company that wrote the insurance policy and ask them to put you in touch with the company that processes the claims. Give the claim- processing company the details of the accident: Company name, cab number, date of the accident. They can give you the policy number and the name of the adjuster who is handling the claim. Give all that information to the billing department at the hospital.

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Comments

I just knew there had to be a good reason our Lindsay wasn't on the barricades that day.

I'm most happy, of course, that you weren't seriously hurt; but its nice also that you didn't have to shell out eleven-hundred dollars for some ibuprofen. It never occured to me those investigative skills could be so useful outside of your job.

How much time did they spend examining you for that $1100?

Good for you for fighting the issue.

EJ

All ER charges are inflated because the hospitals can't refuse anyone, and so those who do pay for the service also bear the burden of costs for the uninsured

All ER charges are inflated because the hospitals can't refuse anyone, and so those who do pay for the service also bear the burden of costs for the uninsured

And that's the only reason they are inflated. Right? Right?

$1000 is about the going rate for an abulance ride to the emergency room. When I twisted my ankle, that was the charge in total: About $650 for the ambulance ride, 300 for the emergency room, and another 50 to a private company responsible for the x-rays. And that was in urban Maine.

All the more reason to have an insurance system that covers all citizens; no need to deal with the bureaucracy of insurance carriers, and the costs of emergency room care already already spread amongst the entire population. Much more efficient.

The $1100 didn't include an ambulance. Happily, I didn't need one.

The entire episode probably took about five hours from the accident until Jane Hamsher picked me up at the hospital.

My girlfriend's mom, in the last years of her life, had an ambulance trip to the hospital and 24-hour care for the next 4 years. Cost: $38 for the ambulance.

That's Canada.

Sorry this happened to you, but they picked the wrong person to try and fuck around didn't they?

Thanks for relating the story. Useful information to have.

Green & White Taxi is terrible. I never use them.

They left my family stranded when we had an ungodly early flight; cab requested never showed up.

The way the taxi company treated you was terrible, and should be criminal (if it isn't already).

Wow, guess it's time to swear off Green & White. I mostly use Yellow anyway, Lord knows if they'd actually prove better in this situation, but when starting in the suburbs G&W is sometimes my first choice.

Lindsay, sorry to hear that you had to go through all that. It really sucks that you had to do all that, but congrats for navigating their obstacles.

QrazyQat, I'm assuming that there's a typo in your post, and you meant that it was $3800. After all, Phantom has pointed out that the only reason my health care costs are expensive is that I have to pay the health care costs of a bunch of dirty, uninsured, poor people, who should rightly be left to die in the street. Since Canadians have universal health care, and you have to pay all the costs of all poor people, I guess you guys much spend more on health care per capita than we do down here, right? Right? I mean, otherwise, most of the conservative arguments against universal health care would just be ignorant jackassery.

Autumnal

I told you to stay off the bathtub gin.

Eric implied that the ER overcharged. I was making the point that they have no choice but to charge a lot, since in instances like this, Lindsay or the taxi company is really paying for two or three ER visits.

Got it?

Oh man are they going to regret messing with you. I'd say good luck, but I'm pretty sure you don't need it to get the money they owe you.

Hi

I flipped this to a right of center type in Minnesota and thought you might enjoy his reaction

-----------


"I went to the RNC to protest and all I got was this lousy neck brace."

"I'm sorry, you've come to the wrong place. This is Green & White. You need to go to the office of Suburban Taxis. It's in, uh, Suburb."

"That's what you deserve for taking a gas-powered taxi instead of a Gaia-sustaining means of transportation."

"The real tragedy is that two distinguished indie journalists were denied the opportunity to be at the barricades!"

"If only we had national health care, I could have been flex-cuffed and pepper-sprayed like the other cool kids."

"I got my revenge, though. I stuck a Famous Dave's bumper sticker on all their cabs. Now they can't find any drivers who will drive them."

Gotta love that Minnesota nice.

Wow, it's striking that the company would not provide you with even basic information about its ownership or its insurance coverage. I was glad you could get around their stonewalling, but think of all the people without your research skills who can't collect on legitimate claims against the company. To use an old expression, "There ought'a be a law!"

(And there probably is, but now that we all live in Bushland, who is going to enforce it?)

potato head

Same stuff happens in Democratic-occupied NYC, where taxi owners tend to have very low insurance limits ( say $25,000 or so ) and where they stonewall all claimants unless they fight.

"Gotta love that Minnesota nice."

Well the humor, you see, comes from fact that these brats are being disrespecful and disobedient towards their Government, and they think they can get away with it. "You can't touch me," says the smug little liberal, "I'm peacefully protesting! This is my constitutional right!" And then, when the State goes in and breaks their arms anyway, then hauls them off to jail, it adds the element of physical comedy and becomes truly hilarious. "Help! I can't breathe!", "Jan, where are you?!?", "I thought this was a democracy!" Stuff like that. The humor comes from the fact that these scumbags think they're entitled to "rights" or "health care" or "freedom", when in fact the only reason they have any of these things is because our heroic Leaders are generous enough to give them.

Same stuff happens in Democratic-occupied NYC, where taxi owners tend to have very low insurance limits ( say $25,000 or so ) and where they stonewall all claimants unless they fight.

NYC is occupied by corrupt machine Democrats (and Bloomberg, who is as concerned with ordinary people as any tin-pot military dictator). It's not occupied by the kind of people who're agitating for regulatory overhauls nationwide.

The Taxi Licensing commission would probably be interested in this story from another angle, viz., fining the company and/or driver. Hard as it is to believe, I have first-hand knowledge that sometimes you can do this.

"Democratic-occupied NYC"

The People's Republic of NYC, the collectivized hell ruled by Maoist fanatics Michael Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani?

Bloomberg is a Democrat in Independent clothing.

Giuliani was an exception.

Every so often, the people here know that there is a need for responsible leadership and not the usual Mark Green types.

Bloomberg is a Democrat in Independent clothing.

All the liberal Democratic activists seem to hate him. Personally I liked him in 2007, when he was pushing for congestion pricing and looser immigration laws, more than I do now, when he's pushing for abolishing term limits.

The last liberal mayor New York's had was Dinkins, and the last before him was Lindsay.

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